The inner workings of people with Down syndrome age much faster than typically-developing individuals, a new study suggests.

Various parts of the body age at an accelerated pace in those with Down syndrome, researchers say, possibly explaining the heightened risk for various medical issues among this population.

Brain tissue from people with Down syndrome appears to be about 11 years older than their chronological age, according to findings published online this month in the journal Aging Cell.

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Meanwhile, blood tissue sampled from those with the chromosomal disorder looks to be about four years older, the study found.

Researchers used a molecular marker of aging known as an epigenetic clock to assess samples from people with and without Down syndrome in four areas of the body — the brain, blood, white blood cells and the inner lining of the cheeks and lips known as buccal mucosa.

Gaining a better understanding of aging in people with Down syndrome is significant, researchers say, since these individuals are six times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and currently have an average life span of just 60 years.

“As it is well known that (Down syndrome) is associated with clinical manifestations of premature aging in brain and to a lesser extent in blood tissue, it is reassuring that we observe significant age acceleration effects in brain (11 years) and blood (4 years) tissue,” wrote Steve Horvath of the University of California, Los Angeles and his colleagues in their findings.

Going forward, the researchers plan to look at tissue samples from teens with Down syndrome to identify when the aging process begins to speed up.